Initial experience of Pany 20/1.7

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by akira, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. For me, Panasonic's new 20/1.7 lens was the first photographic equipment ever in 27 years of my life as hobby photographer that I bought on the day it was released (just four days ago), which alone should explain enough how eagerly I had been waiting for this little giant!
    So, here I would like to share my initial experience with the lens. All images are taken with the lens wide open (at f1.7) and with Kenko skylight filter for protection. The Kenko filter is multi-coated, but not designated "for digital" or anything like that. The smallest filter intended for digital available at this moment is 49mm, so I had to use the conventional MC filter. Even so, I would have to say that the lens performed just admirably.
    The first image shows fairly smooth bokeh (sorry for my reuse of the image posted just yesterday).
  2. The next image is a landscape at dusk.
  3. Here's a 100% crop from the center of the image above (not resized and just converted to JPEG).
  4. And this is also 100% crop from the same image above, but from the area right above and close to the edge.
  5. I would say that the resolution is quite good. Remember that the image was shot wide open.
    And now, this is a sort of "torture test". You should clearly see ghosts from the street light in the center of the image, but it may have been caused by the filter. On the other hand, flare seems to be well under control.
  6. And finally, this is another torture test. The street light is right next to the left above edge of the frame. Again, the flare is well under control and the lens managed to render a quite contrasty image.
    Ao far as these test shots are concerned, I would say that the lens is quite promising. :)
    Oh, FWIW, the camera was Panasonic G1 and ISO was set to 100. And please forgive me for some grammatical errors that are no more able to be corrected.
  7. Excellent pictures. It looks promising. Congratulation with your new equipment. I do consider the same equipment as you but are concerned about the lens' ability to take portraits with a nice blurred background ("nice bokeh") due to the smaller sensor.
    If possible - could you also make a test of the lens at f/1.7 (full open) to show the bokeh with these distances:
    Object (focus): 1.0 meter - Background: 2 meter
    Object (focus): 1.5 meter - Background: 3 meter
    I think that should indicate how well the lens can make a "nice bokeh" when used for portraits.
    Thanks for your help.
  8. question, why would you use a 20mm lens for a portrait 1 meter away? (and then worry about "nice bokeh")
  9. question, why would you use a 20mm lens for a portrait 1 meter away? (and then worry about "nice bokeh")
    Why not? I've used the 40mm nokton on 35mm film for portaits and liked it, so why not 20mm on µ4/3?
    Akira, thanks for the sample shots. Looks a great lens.
  10. A 40 mm lens is not what is traditonally considered a portrait lens. We can debate until the cows come home about shooting environmental portraits...however most model subjects do not care to have their noses prominent or noses sharp and ears out of focus at F 1.7. Akira knows this lens is a low light/ available darkness lens. Designed to perform well wide open, where most lenses perform best a stop or two down from max aperture. It presumably focuses very fast too...
    As for bokeh,forgive my- err- heresy. I still don't really get the importance. The out of focus highlights in the background (will they be nice and soft (creamy some say) or show the effects of a less than round aperture blade array... gomenassai to all true bokeh fans / Don't send the dogs after me.
    T hank you Akira for the torture test on this hot new product. Panasonic engineering is likely to capture a goodly chunk of the market in new adopters of SLR system. A hot company right out of the gate in SLRs. Olympus will be challenged to meet that friendly competition in its consortium as far as micro 4/3 well as bodies.. I have two HG and one SG Olympus lenses. All fine for me in 4/3 size. 50mm F 2 takes an EC-14 for some portrait stuff. I like it. Versatile. Light. Fast.
    Q:What was the Yen price, if I may ask? (I may one day soon consider a G-1 body, a blue one:).) Aloha nui, gs
  11. Looks good. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait til Amazon start shipping :)
  12. Akira-san
    nice test images, thank you for posting them.
  13. Thank you gentlemen, for showing your interests. :) Now, on request of Henrik and for my own interest, I have performed a "bokeh" test. Here's the take one.
  14. The group of focused leaves in the center are approx. 1m away from me and the group behind it is approx. 2m away. Now, this is the 100% crop of the central area.
  15. Then, this is the take two. The twigs a little below the center are approx. 1.5m away and the twigs with white flowers, approx. 3m away.
  16. And this is the 100% crop from the central area.
  17. Needless to say, all images are taken with the 20/1.7 lens wide open and all images posted in this thread were processed from RAW files using PSE 7.0 with Camera RAW 5.5, and no sharpening was applied.
    I would say that the bokeh in both cases is pretty smooth, but you might not be able to expect too much amount of bokeh. Actually the spyder lily in the first image was just 30-40cm away and the houses in the background, at least 50m away. So, you would see how it is difficult to get too much bokeh from this lens.
    By the way, there is a correction in the initial test above: both torture test images were taken with my G1 set to ISO "400", not "100".
    As to Gerry's question, according to the most famous price comparison website, the lowest offered price for Pany 20/1.7 is 37,542 JPY. I bought mine at Yodobashi, one of the largest retailer chain that offered one for 42,000 JPY. Why? Well, the it offers 10% of the price as "service point" which can be used as money when you buy something at one of the chain. I already had 5,000+ point and I got 10% of the rest of money I paid, so virtually it was about 4,000 JPY cheaper than the lowest offered price. Good deal, wasn't it? :)
  18. Akira, Thanks for your post! :)
    Personally, I think the price is ridiculous. Considering CDAF and how these lenses operate (slow for my applications), I won't be buying one (not for these prices). When G1 debuted, it was a fun system. For reasons unknown, everything about m4/3rds appear priced way too high. Even eBay adapters are selling for >$100/each (for Pentax-110 lenses!!).
  19. Oh, as for the focusing speed, I would say the G1-20/1.7 combo is "reasonably" fast, which means, it is not as fast as G1/kit lens combo, but I can accept the fact because fast lens requires more careful and conservative focusing. I have tried Nikon D700-50/1.4G combo and D300-35/1.8G combo. Although I didn't test side by side, the focusing speed of both combos didn't seem faster than G1-20/1.7 combo: they needed to focus carefully and conservatively, too.
  20. Vivek, you posted while I was working on my previous post. The price of 20/1.7 in Japan is only 2,000 JPY more than that of Oly 17/2.8 which doesn't relly attract me. And it is somewhere inbetween the prices of Nikon AF-s 35/1.8G and 50/1.4G. So I would say the price is quite fair. And the most important thing is that 20/1.7 is the most attractive for me amoung these four. Also, now that I bought this 20/1.7, I won't need to look for fast C-mount lenses in similar range or Oly Pen F lenses, sorry to say. :)
  21. Akira, The difference ( say a Nikon APS-C ) is size. m4/3rds sensor is still half the size of an APS-C sensor.
    Already ISO400 is a big stretch for the m4/3rds.
    Yeah, nothing beats lenses with real aperture and focus rings. Not to mention a non plastic construction.
    Oly-D 17/2.8 is, well, let us just say that it ain't a real Pen lens. ;)
    Notwithstanding what my requirements/choices are what is important is if something is suitable for you and fascinates you. The 20/1.7 appears to appeal to you. Glad to hear that. :)
    BTW, Pana sells this with a proper hood, do they not (unlike Oly-D 17/2.8)? I can't find a picture of this lens with its hood anywhere.
  22. for a 20mm it seems quite flat, compared to the nikkor 20mmf2.8 that I use, which shows more field curvature. would you agree?
  23. while it is true 4/3rds is smaller than APS its not quite that much.
  24. second attempt at image
  25. Whatever the size difference may be, ISO400 is tops for m4/3rds, IME.
    I do not hesitate about higher ISOs even with a D40x (old tech CCD and all), for example.
    I think Pentax has great potential to bring out a m4/3rds style, mirrorless, APS-C sensored cam.
    The Pentax Kx (generic AA batteries, no need to buy only one over priced battery like the Pana one), I am going to take look at its high ISO performance. It can take old M42/K mount lenses.
    The color choice is splendid as well. :)
  26. Vivek, admitting that ISO 400 is quite a stretch for m4/3, 20/1.7 enables me to stay with ISO 100 most of the time. As for the size of the sensor, Yoshio compared (m)4/3 with Nikon APS (thanks, Yoshio!). Canon APS is smaller and Sigma, even smaller. Now that APS sensor are denser (15MP to 18MP), noise performance should be much more similar.
    The 20/1.7 doesn't come with a dedicated hood. I don't think one is offered even as a separate accessory. But frankly speaking, I don't really care. As the test shows, flare is well under control even witout the hood and with the filter and thus the hood is not all that necessary. Surprisingly, the lens comes with a pouch. Ouch, I don't know when I would put my lens into the pouch!
    Carey, I think 20/1.7 shows far less field curvature than Nikkor 20/2.8: I tentatively shot my bookshelf filled with bunch of CDs using the 20/1.7 wide open, I was surprised with the corner sharpness of the resulted image. Needless to say to the central area. That said, comparing it with Nikkor 20/2.8 is not fair, because the image circle and angle-of view of these lenses are very different.
    I suspect that the concept of the optical design of Panasonic is different from that of other makes. It seems the highest priority of Pana lenses is to reduce the field curvature instead of balancing it out with distortion and chromatic abarration. The field curvature cannot be corrected through the digital process. OTOH, the distortion and chromatic abarration can be and actually are corrected digitally.
  27. Gentlemen
    yes, I agree that noise is too high above ISO 400 (or even at it) ... I wonder if the sensor was giving only the density of 6MP if there would be significantly lower noise or if some other factor is at work? I think that EOS 5D II is excellent example of high ISO noise ratio and is 2.4pixels /cm² perhaps that is a good 'bench mark' density?
    personally I would have been quite satisfied with a 6MP version of the G1 if I could get high quality 1600 ISO images ... sadly I doubt that the average consumer would agree.
  28. I am not second guessing what motivates a potential camera maker to come up with certain things. ;)
  29. FWIW, half of the camera's heft and bulk is the battery. :)
  30. I love the G1 and I want that lens! Please someone take my E1 off my hands. I use ISO up to 1250 quite often and I'm very happy with the results I'm getting.
  31. Aaaa, Vivek! You did it again! What for? For IR mod? :)
    Anyway, I hope you didn't do that "Tafel Anatomia" thing just to know that the half of heft and bulk of G1 is battery: you could just compare the battery and the body side by side! :p
  32. This is not an OIS lens, correct? Do you think OIS would have further enhanced the ability to shoot at lower light? (Some people are interested in pairing it with the EP1, which has IBIS). Do you know of any one use it on GH1? How well does it do with video?
  33. CC Chang
    if you compare the results on dpreviews tests you can get some idea ( on how well you can expect the OIS to work. Personally I find that I get quite good images in low light hand held on lenses without it. I mainly use a 50mm that has no OIS (when using 20mm I use the kit lens) and careful technique works well. As you can see after 1/4th of a second it wasn't really helpful. So this puts it being the most helpful between 1/30 and and 1/8 ... that's about 2 stops. I would perhaps want to open the lens up those 2 extra stops from f4.5 which the 20mm allows.
    Eventually there are times when the OIS will not be able to help ... and remember its not magic so it can only attempt to react to vibrations, it can not perfectly cope with them. Personally I find
  34. Chang, I don't think it is possible to build OIS mechanism into the lens of this size at this moment. Personally I don't need OIS for a slightly wide standard lens with the speed of f1.7 as desperately as some folks. OIS is handy for slower lenses but the thing is that OIS won't stop the motion of the object. To me, speed is much more important than OIS.
    As for the video, Panasonic explains on the latest firmware for GH1 (1.2):
    1. Improved Auto Focus performance for the subject in low contrast.
    2. Decreased the operation noise of Auto Focus in Motion Picture recording for H-H020 lens.
      (In order to minimize the operation noise of Auto Focus, the Auto Focus operation speed is reduced in Motion Picture recording.)
    3. Improved the stability of AE(Auto Exposure) control for H-ES045 lens(to be introduced in Oct., 2009).
  35. Aaaa, Vivek! You did it again! What for? For IR mod? :)
    Akira, Primarily for UV (UV response of the NMOS (without the AA/UV-IR cut filter)sensor is better than the Sony CCDs).
  36. Hi Vivek,
    After you took the G1 apart, what is your impression about its built quality? Is it "tough?" The G1 seems very light in the hand and most of the body is wrapped in plastic. It does not seem that this camera is designed to take abuses ...
  37. No camera should be subject to "abuse". The sample I took apart (Akira is right) was a terrible mistake.
    I do not know if I can put it back together in a functional order. :(
    Let me just say that it is my conclusion that Pana did not make this as a serviceable camera. What is lacking is a self destruct mechanism when one touches any of the screws. LOL.
    Anyway, the G1 is currently very cheap, especially compared to the over priced and under featured GF-1. :)
  38. rdm


    Anyway, the G1 is currently very cheap,​
    Really ? I wish that was true for all of us. I still cannot afford one. I go to school full time and work very part time. Almost got a used 420 for 200 off crags list but i couldn't drive down to the seller in time and lost it to another buyer.
    If you feel like donating a g1 or any digital SLR to a poor engineering student please let me know. I'm still Using Film :D . lol
    As always Vivek, i love reading your posts and continue to gain knoledge from them. Thank you
  39. Dan, I qualified why it is "cheap". ;)
  40. Dan
    keep searching, the 420 is a good camera and often found well priced. There are only a few differences between the two cameras and I'm sure you can get some nice lenses for the 420 which can be then used later on a G1 or equivalent when you get more money.
    BTW, there is nothing wrong with using film. Personally I think a compact digital for snapshots and a camera such as an OM10 (quite well priced) with negative film will get good results. I was surprised recently how well scanned 35mm film did in comparison to a G1
  41. Vivek,
    sorry about your G1, but the camera should be designed to be serviceable at the factory, or "repair" can be synonym of "replacement of the troubled assembly" nowadays. Thanks for the info on the UV performance of NMOS sensor.
    Yoshio and Dan,
    I would say that going to 4/3 with the eye on m4/3 is not a good idea. To me, 4/3 and m4/3 are two completely different system based on completely diffrerent concepts and constructions, even though the 4/3 lenses are (fully) functional on m4/3 bodies via adapter. To me, the difference between 4/3 and m4/3 is greater than that between Nikon and Canon. Nikon and Canon cameras/lenses are not compatible with each other, but their concepts and construnctions are the same.
  42. Ohayo Akirasan
    I understand your view on the 4/3 vs micro 4/3 systems. However I presently only have one lens which is dedicated to the micro 4/3, and that is the kit lens. I understand that Dan is 'budget oriented' so if he was to buy some well priced Manual OM lenses then assuming he only 'starts' with the e420 then he could easily keep the OM lenses and move across to (say) a G1
    Actually I'm using a 9-18mm lens which will work on both too because I don't feel entirely comfortable with the Panasonic 7-14 due to the inability to put a polarizer filter on it although I understand the difference in price is not that much (when you add the adaptor).
    I would of course not recommend building a collection of 4/3 lenses to go with the e420 and I also recognise that the G1 handles manual focus lenses better than the dinky viewfinder of the e420
    I was just trying to encourage Dan ...
  43. Yoshio-san,
    I basically understand what you are saying. But I would still think going to E420 is not advisable. Even if E420 is really cheap, you still have to spend some money for what you are not likely to use very long (if your ultimate goal is to get into m4/3 system). I would think it's better saving up for what you really want. When you have money, there may be some new model, then the current model should become cheaper, which should be a bonus for the patience. ;)
  44. Here's the latest review of the lens on dpreview:
    In general, the review supports my findings.
  45. I want this lens, but in practice that means that Panasonic needs to come out with an attractively priced kit of the GF1 + 20/1.7 (current preorder price here is 900 euros for the kit, which is simply too much). But let's see, it's very positive to see a lot of activity around m4/3.
  46. Oskar, The price (~900 Euros) does not include the EVF which is "optional"!
    (The G1 which has a much better EVF and a fabulous swivel TFT screen is cheaper.)
    Back to the lens- according dprevs tests, the 20/1.7 @ f/1.7 performs better than the Nyquist limit on the G1.
    So, (if that test results are correct) a whole lot junk information is recorded when the lens is used wide open.
  47. Vivek,
    You state "Back to the lens- according dprevs tests, the 20/1.7 @ f/1.7 performs better than the Nyquist limit on the G1."
    When I go to the DPReview test chart it shows the lens is below the Nyquist limit at center and trending downward to worse from there. Did I read the chart wrongly?
  48. David,
    Dprevs appear to have changed the "test results".,62&fullscreen=true&av=5,5&fl=17,20&vis=VisualiserSharpnessMTF,VisualiserSharpnessMTF&stack=horizontal&&config=LensReviewConfiguration.xml%3F2
    Here the f/1.8 results (center) was above 1800 (they had f/1.7 as well). Still, at some apertures (stopped down) it does show that. May be they will tweak it further to bring it down?!
  49. rdm


    Thanks for the Advice Vivek. I alway get allot of information from reading your posts.
    When i do get one, I would just save up to buy the Wide angle lenses 1st. My whole reason for wanting a 4/3 camera to be my 1st Digital is that i have a whole Slew of Rokkor MD lenses for my Minolta x700. S o i already have allot of lenses i would love to utilize. Almost all of my equipment was either handed down or given to me by friends of my parents who were amazed that someone wanted to use their old manual lenses. The two most expensive lenses i ever paid for was a 35mm f/1.8 and a 50mm f/1.4. Which cost me 85 and 25 USD respectively. Oh and earlier this year i was also given a canon A-1 with the 50mm f/1.2 lens. The A-1 isn't functioning but 2 years ago i purchased a box of darkroom equipment at a garage sale for 25 dollars and a Canon T-70 body was in there too. I ran 2 rolls through it with the lens last month but haven't developed it yet.
    Anyway i know i can use all the MD lenses i got on any 4/3 body but if i can get ahold of a micro 4/3 i can use the canon lens too. I keep askin arround for people that might be selling one that fell of tha back of a truck but no luck.. lol.... its too bad i cant use a digital rebel .. i see alot of those for 200 or less.
  50. Vivek, Wow 900 Euros! Assuming you are talking about body + the 20mm kit lens package, that's almost 50% more expensive than the price in Hong Kong which is where I live.
  51. I was curious because the 20/1.7 scored so well in tests. So I looked at more lenses, and the only better ones I found were the Nikon 50/1.4 G, and (stopped-down at edges) the Sigma 50/1.4 EX. Canon, Pentax, Sony 50/1.4 lenses were all worse, some significantly so, as were the good-reputation zooms. I heard the Sigma 70/2.8 macro scores extremely high in MTF testing, but dpreview has not reviewed it.

    So: amazing for a pancake lens, and it is not even Leica branded.
  52. Vivek, I know and 900 euros is too much, plain and simple. I'm not so tempted about the G1 as the form factor of the GF1 is more tempting, but I'm going to keep an open mind and wait for more reviews.
  53. Hi Akira,
    I plan to visit Tokyo and Kyoto by the end of October. Where can I go to buy the 20/1.7 at a good price? How much is it right now in Japan? It is $400 here and I hope it would be cheaper to buy it in Japan. I am still waiting for the price of GH1 to fall. It seems that the supply of GH1 is finally caught up with the demand and it is now readily available at Amazon, B&H, and Adorama. However it is still sold at $1500, which I think is over-priced considering the fact that it is all plastic not a durable built. I know its price has come down substantially in Japan, and even in Canada. However those that are sold in Japan have only Japanese menu. Do you know if there are places in Tokyo where one can find GH1 with English menu? (I don't want to get you into legal trouble though, ...)
  54. CC, the lowest offered price of 20/1.7 in Japan is 37,346 JPY as of Oct. 9, according to Japan's most famous price comparison website ( Considering the currency rate today (1 USD = 90 JPY), this is equal to around 415 USD. The price will vary but the cheapest I've seen was about 35,000 JPY. So, at least at this moment, I would find no merit for you to purchase 20/1.7 in Japan. At least it is easy to find one here, though.
    OTOH, GH1 with 14-140mm zoom kit is offered at 98,000 JPY now, but I bet this is the Japanese-only version. Unfortunately I don't know how to search the prices of the English versions online.

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